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Br J Cancer. 2004 Jul 5;91(1):124-8.

Sentinel lymph-node biopsy in head and neck cancer.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital of Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Arnold-Heller-Strasse, 24105 Kiel, Germany.


The aim of the study was to assess the diagnostic value of the sentinel node method in patients suffering from squamous cell carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract. In 50 patients with oral, pharyngeal or laryngeal carcinomas staged N0 up to 50 MBq technetium-99m colloid were injected peritumorally. Sentinel nodes were localised using a gamma-probe in the setting of an elective neck dissection. Pathological findings of sentinel nodes and corresponding neck specimens were compared. In 46 patients sentinel nodes were detected. Of these 34 patients were free of metastatic disease in the sentinel nodes and in the neck specimens. In 12 patients clinically occult metastases were found in the sentinel nodes. Three metastases were detected only after additional sectioning of the sentinel nodes. In four patients, a sentinel lymph node could not be localised. Our results support the sentinel node concept in head and neck cancer and a definition of the sentinel nodes as the three nodes with the highest activity. Careful clinical staging of the neck and thorough pathological evaluation of the sentinel nodes are necessary to avoid false-negative results.

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